Clothing your daughter in the fanciest dresses doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. You can sew little girl’s dresses for a fraction of the cost you could purchase on at your local department store. Even better, making fancy dresses is fun and not as complicated as it sounds. Additionally, you can hand-pick the fabrics and embellishments, making the dress a one-of-a-kind creation. With some basic sewing supplies and a little bit of creativity, you can create even the most complicated-looking dress.
To make your dress, measure your child’s chest, waist and hips so you can accurately determine the correct size. Purchase your pattern, making sure that your pattern includes the proper size for your child based on the measurement chart on the back of the pattern. For fancy dresses, a pattern that uses simple construction and sewing techniques is best. Portabello Pixie and Modkid Boutique offer dress patterns that can be dressed up or down. Both of these patterns come with standard girl’s sizes six months to size eight in one pattern and each contains a variety of dress options.
Next, determine the yardage needed for the dress you selected. A yardage requirements chart is located on the back of your pattern, corresponding to the dress and size you choose. Write down the yardage requirements for the dress you chose in the size you need.
Purchase the required amount of fabric. While many dress patterns are designed for cotton fabrics, you can make them fancier by selecting a luxurious fabric such as satin, silk, velvet or voile. Cutting these fabrics, however, requires more time and care than cutting out cotton. No matter which fabric you choose, the fabric requirements for each size remain the same. Make sure to purchase an extra 1/2-yard of fabric to compensate for any unforeseen errors. If you do not use the extra fabric for the dress, you can use it to make accessories, such as a matching headband or purse.
Read the pattern instructions from beginning to end before you start sewing so you understand the process of making your dress. Pattern instruction sheets are a rich source of information that shows you how to properly lay out your pattern pieces on your fabric. The instructions also note which pattern pieces to use for the different dresses, where to put important pattern construction markings on your fabric, and how to pin, assemble and sew your dress. Prepare your fabric by prewashing and drying it. Iron it to remove any wrinkles so that it will be smooth for cutting. Cut out your needed pattern pieces.
Fold your fabric so that the right sides are together and lay it on a hard, flat surface. Arrange your fabric pieces on top of your fabric according to the pattern directions unless you are making your dress from velvet. Velvet has a “nap”, which means that it feels smooth when you run your hand over it in one direction and rough when you run your hand over it in the opposite direction. Dresses cut from velvet must have the nap running in the same direction on each pattern piece. Pin each pattern piece in place. Cut your pattern pieces with a pair of sharp scissors. If you are using fabrics such as velvet, silk or satin, take your time in cutting. Silk, voile and satin are slippery and velvet can be thick, making these fabrics a challenge to cut. Secure your pattern piece with pins to your fabric and take your time in cutting.
Unpin the pattern pieces from your fabric pieces. Transfer pattern markings from the pattern to your fabric with the chalk pencil. Pin your fabric together according to the pattern instructions. Sew your dress together as instructed by the pattern.
Finally, add embellishments to your finished dress. While neither pattern has directions for embellishments, you can create endless embellishments. Some suggestions for embellishments are hem enhancements, ribbon sashes, and the addition of detail. To enhance the hem, sew a piece of coordinating patterned ribbon around the entire bottom edge either by hand or with your sewing machine. To make the dress more formal, create a sash out of coordinating satin ribbon that is at least two inches wide. Cut the sash three times as long as the waist measurement and tie around the waist. For an elegant spring look, sew pre-made fabric flowers to the chest or lapel of the dress. For a fancy winter look, add an edge of heavy lace to the bottom edges of the hem and arm openings. These are just a few suggestions; the options for embellishment are endless and are a way to display your creativity.